An explosion of single-celled marine micro-organisms cause “tides” of different colours, down the waters of California, commonly known as “red tides”. Red tides are caused by growth in population of single celled marine organisms, amongst which some are Dinoflagellate which propel themselves through the water with hairy projections. There are also others, such as diatoms which are algae (phytoplankton).
These tiny animals can be deadly to marine life, as they produce toxins that kill shellfish and fish, along with larger animals like dugongs, birds and dolphins.
These algal blooms have been prominent not only in the USA (Gulf of Mexico), but also in the Arabian gulf and up the coasts of Oman, where tons of dead fish have washed up on the shore this year. In many areas of the world, including Hong Kong and Florida, red tides appear late summer or autumn. In the waters of the UAE’s east coast recently there have been large brown/yellow swirls of water stretching for miles up the coast, and it has been suggested that this was an algal bloom.
Humans should also be cautious of red tides as they can suffer respiratory problems and skin irritation from swimming in these areas.
According to scientists from the University of South Florida, these tides are on the rise, and will increase as water temperature increases.